Black Square

Black Square

Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine


'Lively and engaging' Financial Times
'Empathetic and deeply humanising' Peter Pomerantsev, author of This is Not Propaganda

Each time Ukraine has rebuilt itself over the last century, it has been plagued by the same conflicts: corruption, poverty, and most of all Russian aggression. Sophie Pinkham saw all this and more over ten years in Ukraine and Russia, a period that included the Maidan revolution of 2013-14, Russia's annexation of Crimea, and the ensuing war in Donbass.

With a keen eye for the dark absurdities of post-Soviet society, Pinkham presents a dynamic account of contemporary Ukrainian life. She meet a charismatic doctor helping to smooth the transition to democracy even as he struggles with drug dependence; a band of Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian hippies in a Crimean idyll; and a Jewish clarinetist agitating for Ukrainian liberation. These fascinating personalities deliver an indelible impression of a country on the brink.

Black Square is necessary reading for anyone who wishes to learn the roots of the current Russo-Ukrainian war and the personal stories of the people who live it every day.


'Elegant, suggestive, ominous, beautiful, and deceptively simple . . . Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the sheer number and diversity of people Sophie Pinkham has spoken to is how deftly she has woven their stories into a single compulsively readable narrative.' Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot


  • Sophie Pinkham is a wry, erudite observer of human foibles, political illusions, and funny hats. In Ukraine and its complex and tragic confrontation with Russia (and itself), she has found the perfect subject. Anyone who wants an explanation of Ukraine's recent history that goes beyond Kremlin propaganda and Western media oversimplification should read this book.
    Keith Gessen, translator of 'Voices from Chernobyl'

About the author

Sophie Pinkham

Sophie Pinkham lives in New York. Her writing on Russia and Ukraine has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, n+1, the London Review of Books and Foreign Affairs, among other publications.
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